Briana Hefley Shepard’s daughter had a tradition. Each day, she would stand at the large windows at her family’s business and wave to the passing trains below. After three years of this, a conductor saw a sign in the window where he was used to seeing a tiny blonde girl.
Briana Hefley Shepard had just walked into work when an unforgettable moment happened. It had caught her off guard, and for a brief moment, she was at a loss for words. She had no idea that her actions or her daughter Rio’s actions would have such a big impact on others, but it had been happening for many years while she was completely unaware.
About three years previously, her family’s business, Alrac Electric, moved into a building which is located right along the train tracks. This means that they get a front row seat to all of the locomotive action, and her daughter Rio lives for it. It didn’t take long for the conductors to notice her waving to them and for them to return those waves. As the days progressed, it became their ritual.
The train conductors would blow their whistles, and Rio would run to the window. Everyone would wave and smile from ear to ear. Briana teared up almost every single time that she witnessed it, but eventually, her daughter started school. The transition to daily school hit Briana a little harder than she was expecting, but it hit her the hardest on the first day that the train came while Rio wasn’t there.
They blew their whistles and opened their windows, but the mother was the only one standing there, just crying and weakly waving. On the next day, Briana made a sign. She simply wrote, “She started school.” When she heard the whistle, Briana went to the window and held up the sign.
Three weeks later, almost minutes after Briana walked into the shop, someone knocked on the door. It was a man in a bright yellow shirt with earplugs hanging down. She assumed he was a construction worker coming to talk about construction because that’s what the family business does. But, she was wrong. He was there to ask about the little girl with the blonde hair that waved to the trains. He was one of the conductors, and they had all been wondering what had happened to her.
On that day, they had a short train, so they stopped down the tracks, walked to the building, and knocked on the door. Briana was so touched by the train conductor’s confession that it brought her to tears. They had seen her sign but couldn’t make out what it said. They had assumed her daughter had started school, but they had to make sure. The man said that her waves had made their days. For three years, they’d shared these tender moments, and they missed her.
Briana Hefley Shepard said that witnessing their unconventional friendship over the past several years has been nothing short of magical. To know it impacted the train conductors just as much as it impacted Rio, filled her mom with love and hope. The visit and their ongoing kindness to her daughter has reaffirmed her faith in goodness and humanity. These are the moments that we should always remember.
Indeed, Rio will surely always remember standing at the window and looking out at the passing trains, waving to the conductors and hearing them blow the train’s whistle just for her. You should never hesitate to do something nice for a stranger. A little bit of kindness goes a very long way, just as the kindness the railway workers showed to this little girl has impacted her life forever.